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Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid used for many conditions in both human and veterinary medicine. Its anti-inflammatory activity is approximately four times that of hydrocortisone. Corticosteroids are extremely effective anti-inflammatory drugs because they affect the inflammatory process at so many different levels. Prednisone is rapidly converted to prednisolone in the liver and, in most instances, these drugs are considered to be roughly equivalent. Corticosteroids have strong beneficial effects but a definite potential to cause negative side-effects if abused. Prednisone may be given by injection, orally, or topically.
Prednisone is used for a wide variety of conditions in both dogs and cats. It may be used in emergency situations including anaphylactic reactions, spinal cord trauma, and many forms of shock. It is used to manage and treat immune-mediated disease such as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia, many CNS disorders, some neoplasia, dermatologic diseases, allergic reactions such as asthma, hives and itching, inflammatory orthopedic diseases, endocrine disorders including Addison's Disease, respiratory disease with an inflammatory component, inflammatory bowel diseases, and many other conditions.
Cats may require higher doses than dogs in order to achieve clinical response but they are less likely to develop adverse side-effects.
Prednisone is given systemically to decrease inflammatory and immune responses. For years it was used orally to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other allergic or immune mediated disorders. Recent work has demonstrated that horses do not absorb oral prednisone although they do absorb oral prednisolone. Other corticosteroids are preferred for intra-articular use.
Short-term administration of even large doses is unlikely to cause serious harmful systemic effects due to adrenal suppression. Problems associated with long-term administration of prednisone relate to suppression of normal adrenal function, iatrogenic Cushing's Disease and metabolic crisis due to abrupt withdrawal.
Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.
She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.
Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.
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This content is intended for counseling purposes only. This content is informational/educational and is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or patient. No claims are made as to the safety or efficacy of mentioned preparations. The compounded medications featured in this content have been prescribed and/or administered by prescribers who work with Wedgewood Pharmacy. You are encouraged to speak with your prescriber as to the appropriate use of any medication. Wedgewood Pharmacy’s compounded veterinary preparations are not intended for use in food and food-producing animals. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.